Life on Venus: Scientists hope to launch mission to planet to see if ‘teeming with life’

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Venus could soon become the subject of new space exploration after scientists detected signs of potential life on the planet. The prospect of a new mission was sparked after gas normally connected to microbes and bacteria was dected on the second planet from the Sun. Planetary scientist Doctor Sheila Kanani told Good Morning Britain scientists are now hoping to conduct more tests in light of someday sending off a spacecraft to “test the atmosphere” for life forms.

Dr Kanani said: “They are doing loads more tests and, obviously, some of the testing has been postponed because of the pandemic.

“But loads of more tests will happen. The scientists are not claiming to have found life on Venus at all and they are very aware they need to do a lot more tests from the Earth.

“The ideal situation would be to send a spacecraft to Venus and actually test the atmosphere and see if it is teeming with bacterial life or not.”

The planetary scientist however dismissed suggestion a man-manned mission could be sent as she pointed out Venus’ characteristics are not suitable to human life.

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While Venus is very similar in size to the Earth, the atmosphere is “highly acidic” and the high pressure would effectively “crush” a space explorer lacking suitable protection.

Sr Kanani continued: “It’s a very, very harsh environment.

“It would be ok for some type of spacecraft but probably more suited for robots than humans.

“Venus is about the same size of the Earth but on the surface the temperature is about 400C and the pressure is 90 times the pressure of the Earth.

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So if a human being landed on the surface of Venus without any protective gear, they would be crushed because of the pressure.”

She added: “And the atmosphere is highly acidic, it’s 90 percent acid so that would burn your lungs, so it’s not really a nice place at all.”

Phoshine gas, which is produced naturally by microbes or decaying organic matter, was detected in the cloud hovering above Venus.

While the presence of the gas was interpreted as a sign of life, researchers have cautioned the presence of living forms is only one potential explanation justifying the detection of phosphine.

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The paper discussing the discovery said: “Phosphine could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry — or, by analogy with biological production of phosphine on Earth, from the presence of life.

“If no known chemical process can explain phosphine within the upper atmosphere of Venus, then it must be produced by a process not previously considered plausible for Venusian conditions.

“This could be unknown photochemistry or geochemistry — or possibly life.”

The researchers added: “Even if confirmed, we emphasise that the detection of phosphine is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry.”

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